More than six years after initially proposing a controversial residential development in the Jewelry District, the Fane Organization announced Friday that its proposed luxury building will not be constructed.
“I came to Providence with a vision for a great and iconic project that would provide much-needed housing, quality jobs and revenue for local government and have worked long and hard to make it a reality," Fane Organization President Jason Fane wrote in a statement. "However, due to recent risk factors outside of my control, it is no longer feasible to move forward with this project."
The plans, which initially called for three residential towers on land made vacant by the relocation of Interstate 195, were scaled down to one tower in 2018. The project almost immediately faced criticism for its design and scale and underwent multiple revisions, The Herald previously reported.
While the building’s design received I-195 Commission approval in October 2019, the organization proposed a new design due to changed market conditions in December 2022 and brought it before the commission in January, The Herald previously reported. Projections estimated the final design’s cost at roughly $300 million.
With a proposed height of 550 feet, the tower would have been the tallest in the city’s skyline and required a zoning ordinance exemption, which was upheld by the Rhode Island Supreme Court last June.
In January, Utile Architecture and Planning — a consultant for the I-195 Commission — recommended that the commission not approve the new proposal until “significant design revisions” were made. Design updates regarding balconies, wind impacts, greenery and paneling were presented at the February meeting — but concerns regarding the project persisted, The Herald previously reported.
Supporters of the project cited its economic benefits — including over 1,500 projected construction jobs, over $86 million in construction wages and $250 million in tax revenue over the next 40 years — along with the boost it would provide to private sector construction.
“I am disappointed in the news that the Fane Organization will not be proceeding with their proposed development,” said Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-Providence) in a statement as reported by the Providence Journal and GoLocalProv. He added that the tower “would have provided badly needed housing and jobs and helped to foster a vibrant downtown.”
Ruggerio also expressed concerns about “numerous roadblocks” apart from the I-195 Commission’s standard review process — and that developers may be discouraged from investing in Rhode Island due to “obstacles to development that take years to overcome.”
Concerns about the tower among community members and leaders included a lack of available data about market need, the affordability of units, insufficient parking, failure to meet deadlines and adverse impacts on the neighboring Innovation District Park, The Herald previously reported.
While state House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Warwick) said in a statement that he was also disappointed by the end of the Fane Organization’s project, he noted he is “optimistic about the future of biotech and life sciences in our state,” WPRI reported. The parcel of land, he noted, is “prime real estate for potential growth.”
Rhea Rasquinha is a Metro section editor covering the College Hill, Fox Point & the Jewelry District and Brown & Beyond beats. She also serves as an illustrator. She is a sophomore from New York studying Biomedical Engineering and loves dark chocolate and penguins.